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New Survey: What Do Disabled U.S. Audiences Think Of Representation On Screen?

Learn about new research from UCLA Center for Scholars & Storytellers. Explore the results of a new nationwide survey. What do disabled U.S. audiences think of representation on screen?


  • Amanda Aguero, Production Assistant, 2nd Assistant Director, Script Supervisor, Stunt Woman and Actress; Alumna of 2021 RespectAbility Entertainment Lab
  • Maira Karan, Report Author and Developmental Psychology Ph.D. Candidate at UCLA
  • Tatiana Lee, RespectAbility’s Senior Associate for Entertainment Media and Actress/Model
  • Diane J. Wright, Screenwriter and a DEI-certified Creative Content Consultant; Alumna of 2021 RespectAbility Entertainment Lab
Headshots of four speakers for the event

Lessons Learned from Kennedy Krieger Institute: Neurodiversity, Collaboration and Transition Success for Youth with Disabilities

Neurodiversity, system collaborations and transition services for youth with disabilities are some of the most cutting-edge topics in the wider world of disability employment. Fostering cooperation between different programs is critical for achieving transformative results for people with significant barriers to employment.

The Neurodiversity at Work programs at the Kennedy Krieger Institute is built on a foundation of interdisciplinary and interagency collaboration. It offers critical lessons and emerging practices for other youth serving agencies, organizations, and programs. This webinar discussed in detail what makes Kennedy Krieger’s work successful. [continue reading…]

NDEAM Entertainment Media Summit: Fireside Chat with Actor James Caverly and ASL Consultant Douglas Ridloff of Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building

NDEAM Entertainment Media Summit: A Focus on the Future

This event is part of a larger series of events. Learn more:

This panel was a conversation with actor, James Caverly and ASL consultant, Douglas Ridloff, of Hulu’s hit murder mystery series, Only Murders in the Building, moderated by Deaf producer, writer, and director, Jevon Whetter (Flash Before the Bang). Together the group unpacked James’ recent experience as a Deaf actor portraying a Deaf character in Only Murders in the Building, and Douglas’ experience as an ASL Consultant on this show and other productions, in a discussion that highlighted current best practices in producing TV and film content with ASL dialogue, Deaf performers, and navigating space with Deaf characters.

This panel also explored some of the behind-the-scenes work that went into shaping one of the series’ most recent episodes, which was shot almost entirely in silence utilizing ASL and other forms of visual communication, and discussed the overall importance of authentic and inclusive storytelling when it comes to on-screen representation.


  • James Caverly, Actor, Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building
  • Douglas Ridloff, ASL Consultant, Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building
  • Jevon Whetter, Producer, Writer and Director
Headshots of Douglas Ridloff, James Caverly and Jevon Whetter.

Emerging Best Practices: Lessons on Virtual Pre-Employment Transition Services from Tennessee

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The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis have necessitated the shift to virtual services for many key educational, occupational and transitional service programs. As a part of the constellation of programs under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) support youth with disabilities during a critical time of their lives. Many states have been scrambling to manage the shift to virtual services and struggling to develop best practices to support client success.

Leaders in Tennessee’s vocational rehabilitation system have published a thorough best practice guide reflecting critical lessons and valuable insights gained about providing effective virtual Pre-Employment Transition Services. This free online learning opportunity directly enabled engaged workforce leaders and self-advocates to understand what works, what is changing and how to plan for an exciting virtual future. [continue reading…]

Cast to the Future: Discovering Disabled Talent

Cast to the Future Discovering Disabled Talent

Disabled Characters: Who gets to write them? Who gets to play them?

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NDEAM Entertainment Media Summit: A Focus on the Future

This event is part of a larger series of events. Learn more:

Film Fatales and RespectAbility hosted a panel discussion about inclusive casting with casting consultant Ava Rigelhaupt, filmmaker Alaa Zabara (Salahy) and talent agent Gail Williamson (KMR Talent).

The question of who should tell stories of marginalized and underrepresented voices has been much discussed, sometimes leading to heated stances over artistic freedom, cultural appropriation and accusations of censorship. And yet, disabled stories are sorely lacking in representation. Twenty percent of people have a disability while on-screen representation hovers around three percent, with no meaningful change in the last five years. While more attention is being paid to hiring disabled actors for disabled roles, what about opportunities for disabled actors to play nondisabled characters? And who should be writing these roles? What are best practices for inclusive casting and accessible sets? This event was a deep dive into a conversation about inclusive casting for both visible and nonvisible disabilities, creating accessible sets, and ensuring authentic authorship. [continue reading…]

RespectAbility 2021 Strategic Plan Launch Event

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RespectAbility, a diverse disability-led nonprofit organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community, officially announced the release of its new strategic plan. The plan is the culmination of a year-long process that brought together a cadre of key influencers from across the country, building upon evidence-based research, refinement, and results from the past eight years. The result is a bold, forward-looking, and visionary five-year roadmap to shatter old paradigms by engaging in a multifaceted approach to remove physical, programmatic, and attitudinal barriers to full societal participation by people with all types of disabilities.

We hosted with RespectAbility Chairman Ollie Cantos and other Board officers. Attendees learned more about the strategic plan and what is next for RespectAbility. [continue reading…]

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

There are 5,412,676 Hispanic/Latinx people with disabilities in America today, making up 9.1% of the total population. There are 2,969,668 working-age Hispanic/Latinx people with disabilities and out of that number, just 1,213,802 had jobs in 2019.

In America’s K-12 public school system there are 1,826,344 Hispanic/Latinx disabled students. Nationwide, they make up fully 27% of all special education students. In some jurisdictions, such as the Los Angeles Unified School and New York City, Hispanic/Latinx students with disabilities comprise the majority of special education students.

Join members of RespectAbility’s Board, Staff and National Leadership program in a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and learn more about ways in which we can change these statistics – from policy and civic education to entertainment media. [continue reading…]

ADA @31: A Focus on the Future – How Disabled Writers Are Changing the Landscape of the Entertainment Industry

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In this session, we focused on the way disabled individuals, specifically writers, are making a difference in the entertainment industry.

According to a recent report from Think Tank for Inclusion & Equity (TTIE), “93.0% of writers said their most recent writers room had no Disabled or Deaf writers.” Upper-level Disabled or Deaf writers are even more scarce, with only 2.6% of writers reporting that their most recent writers’ room had at least one upper level Disabled or Deaf writer. Currently, the Writers Guild of America West and the Writers Guild of America East do not yet track employment data by disability status.

The RespectAbility Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities is aiming to change this. To date, 25 of the RespectAbility Lab graduates identify as writers, and several are helping to change this landscape. Lab alumni from 2019 and 2020 currently work in the writers’ rooms for Netflix’s Mech Cadet, CW’s 4400 and Showtime’s Dexter, among others. Of the 30 participants in the 2021 Lab, half of the participants are writers, for both TV and film.

Meet 10 of these writers in this webinar recording: Leo Allanach, Amanda Aguero, Nikki Bailey, Colin Buckingham, Tameka Citchen-Spruce, Bella Cosper, Ty Freedman, Sarah Granger, Juliet Romeo and Hilary Van Hoose. This session was moderated by RespectAbility Lab alumna and 2021 Lab Faculty Advisor Ashley Eakin. [continue reading…]

Fireside Chat with Jim Sinocchi – Lessons on Disability Inclusion for the Post-COVID World

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As more people get vaccinated and companies begin reopening their offices, it is critical to reflect on key lessons from the past year of Zoom calls and remote work. Watch a special conversation with disability employment expert, business leader, and inclusion innovator Jim Sinocchi. Jim talked about how JPMorgan Chase has reshaped their accessibility efforts, how they deliver accommodations both in the office and remotely, and what opportunities lay ahead for future leaders with disabilities. This fireside chat gave audience members unprecedented access to ask their most burning questions about disability employment and the post-COVID world. [continue reading…]

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